Wisconsin Supreme Court Reverses Ruling, Adopts Legislative Maps Drawn by Republicans

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday reversed an earlier ruling and adopted Republican-drawn maps for the upcoming elections, The Associated Press reports.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court initially rejected Republican-proposed maps and adopted a plan from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

Evers’ map maintained a Republican advantage created during an aggressive 2011 redistricting cycle but increased the number of Black-majority districts from six to seven.

Republicans, meanwhile, pushed to cut the number of Black-majority districts to five, which the court warned would run afoul of voting rights protections for minority voting power.

Republicans argued that increasing Black political representation amounted to an illegal “21st-century racial gerrymander.”

Supreme Court struck down:

The US Supreme Court last month struck down the Wisconsin ruling. In an unsigned opinion, the court’s majority said that the state court did not consider carefully enough whether an additional Black-majority district was necessary.

The decision threw the case back to the state court, drawing a rebuke from liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

"The Court's action today is unprecedented," Sotomayor wrote. "In an emergency posture, the Court summarily overturns a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision resolving a conflict over the State's redistricting, a decision rendered after a 5-month process involving all interested stakeholders. Despite the fact that summary reversals are generally reserved for decisions in violation of settled law, the Court today faults the State Supreme Court for its failure to comply with an obligation that, under existing precedent, is hazy at best."

GOP map:

After the Supreme Court ruling, the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday adopted the GOP-drawn maps in a 4-3 decision.

“The maps proposed by the Governor ... are racially motivated and, under the Equal Protection Clause, they fail strict scrutiny,” Chief Justice Annette Ziegler wrote for the majority, arguing that the GOP maps are “race neutral” and “comply with the Equal Protection Clause, along with all other application federal and state legal requirements.”

Three liberal justices dissented.

“If, according to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Governor’s addition of a Milwaukee-area majority-minority district evinces a disqualifying consideration of race, then the Legislature’s removal of a Milwaukee-area majority-minority district reveals an equally suspect, if not more egregious, sign of race-based line drawing,” Justice Jill Karofsky wrote.

Evers called the decision “outrageous.”

“This court had clearly and decisively rejected the Legislature’s maps prior to this case being considered by the Supreme Court of the United States, and today, they have backtracked on that decision, upholding the very maps they had previously found to unlawfully 'pack' Black voters,” he said. “At a time when our democracy is under near-constant attack, the judiciary has abandoned our democracy in our most dire hour. Wisconsinites want a democracy, they want fair representation, and they want fair maps as they have demanded of this government for ten years. Today, they receive no recourse. This is an unconscionable miscarriage of justice for which the people of this state will see no reprieve for another decade.”


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